When I was a 20 year old monkey in Bali, my first thought was: F ** k, Mom specifically told me to keep from the animals. My second thought was: Do I even have travel insurance to cover my doctor's visit?
Fortunately, when I tracked an English speaking hospital to manage some extremely large and painful injections against rabies, I found out that the answer to the second question was yes.
For many of us, the purchase of travel insurance is a last resort – and studies show that one third of us tends to choose from what is cheapest without reading fine prints.
The problem is that more than half of the passengers are not properly insured. Part of the problem often consists of undeclared medical issues or specific behavior that prevents passengers from claiming insurance.
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"People have this idea of making insurance and everything," says Jen Lewis, senior lawyer at the Financial Rights Law Center, which runs the insurance law.
"In fact, insurance covers only some claims."
So when buying travel insurance, what should you consider to make sure you get the policy that works for you?
Read the fine print
The experts I spoke with all started with the same advice: Always read carefully the details of politics before you buy them.
Includes travel insurance for mental illness?
In the past, many insurers did not include mental illnesses, even though they appeared for the first time on the road.
Nonetheless, insurers' access to mental illness is changing afterwards successful legal challenge on grounds of discrimination.
Early mental illness is now covered by some policies, says Melanie Schleiger, manager of the legal program for equality in Victorian legal assistance, which in 2015 received a breakthrough case of discrimination.
But beware: Some principles only apply to primary mental illness if you ask for it as optional equipment, says Mrs. Lewis.
Your best bet as always: Read the guidelines carefully to see if it's the first mental illness when traveling.
Boring it can be, but Reading Product Disclosure Statement (PDS) is your best bet on whether you are buying the right insurance for you, says Abigail Koch, spokesperson at a large price comparison website.
When choosing politics, "the price is of course a consideration, but it should fall order," he says.
"Think about where you are going, what you will do and what you will most likely need. Think about your health and think about what you want to take with you."
Then read the PDS carefully – including a thorough reading of the word definitions table – to make sure that the policy really suits all of these needs.
Make sure you're covered with everything you need
One of the main things you will have to check in your policies are "exclusion" more than half (58%) of adult Australians do not!
Some policies will not apply to certain health conditions that pre-contain the date of purchase of your policy, whether mental illness or physical conditions.
Obtaining cover for the current state is not always easy: Some insurers will only cover existing conditions with an additional fee, and sometimes even a medical assessment, according to the consumer group CHOICE advocacy.
If you are unsure whether your old state is covered, "the best option is to call the insurer right before you leave and check for what you are going to cover," says Mrs. Koch.
Does travel insurance cover pregnancy?
Go to babymoon? It is important that you read the product disclosure statement on your insurance to make sure your pregnancy is covered.
Some insurers completely exclude pregnancy coverage, but others will cover you for one uncomplicated pregnancy for up to 20 or 30 weeks (23 weeks or 28 weeks are common border points).
Some insurers will not cover your pregnancy if you expect multiples or if you have been through an assisted reproduction program, says Mrs. Koch. And if your baby is born prematurely during the journey, it probably will not be covered.
Some insurers require your doctor to comment before they sign you for cover, Mrs Kochová adds.
You may be surprised that most basic policies will not cover you:
- Risky adventure activities such as skiing, water skiing or parachuting
- Ride a moped or a motorcycle if you do not have a proper driving license in the country you are in
- Lose or steal luggage if you leave it unattended
- Loss or injury due to terrorism, civil unrest or some natural disasters
- Travel to a high – risk country before traveling from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (beware of the Smart Traveler Website)
- Preventive health status of a loved one (for example, if you need to fly home because a loved one becomes unconscious or goes away).
If you need to cover any of these items, you may be able to pay extra for additional optional cover. This means you will pay a higher premium and often a higher amount to claim claims such as winter sports, current conditions or specific valuables.
Does travel insurance include valuable jewelry?
Your home and content insurance may relate to that sparkling ring, but do not rely on your travel insurance to cover it.
Some policies limit claims on "valuables" for some items to just a few hundred dollars. (Some of the policies reviewed by ABC Life have reduced these claims to $ 750 per item.)
"I did not see a policy that would cover you as a $ 10,000 engagement ring, although I'm not saying it's out," says Mrs. Koch.
Be aware of travel insurance through credit cards
Some credit cards come with free travel insurance.
While this may be a good choice, it can be "a few other tricks that you have to go through" to be covered by this policy, says Mrs. Lewis.
For example, you will have to call to activate the insurance before your trip.
Usually, you will need to buy tickets for a certain value using this credit card to get coverage, "says Mrs. Lewis, and often your credit card insurance is free it is activated only if you reserve a return trip.
Some of these policies do not allow you to pay additional premiums to cover existing conditions, as do many separate policies, CHOICE notes.
Watch out for catchy activities
An accident caused by congestion at swimming pool cocktails will not be covered by your insurance.
When should you buy insurance?
Experts I spoke to said that it is best to book travel insurance right after booking your vacation.
"The benefit of buying travel insurance soon is that some of these policies will cover you before any event," says Mrs Lewis.
"Usually, the cost of purchasing your travel insurance on the day you book your holiday, as opposed to the one you leave, is very similar … and you have another security and guarantee if nothing happens," says Mrs Koch.
Keep in mind that few insurers will allow you after leaving Australia.
"No travel insurance company will kill you for a cup of wine," says Mrs. Koch.
"But if you have too many drinks, you fall and you come across the stairs, and you think the reason you moved and fell is that you were under the influence of alcohol, most insurers would refuse to pay your claims."
The same applies to illicit drug use (although it would not be a problem if you were to take the medicine prescribed by your medical advisor and used in accordance with their instructions, says Mrs Kochová).
Do not assume your insurer does not know you are in the wine: Insurers can look at police and health records, hotel news and airline reports when investigating your claim – and insurance investigators are more likely to use social media sites to verify your claims, Mrs Koch.
This article contains only general information. You should not rely on them as advice on your specific circumstances and issues for which you should get specific independent expert advice.